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Nick Clegg: EU will be torn apart if closer eurozone ties leaves Britain in the cold

Deputy prime minister will warn EU summit: ‘Any decision that affects the 27 must always be taken by the 27′

The European Union could break up if the planned closer political and financial integration of eurozone countries leads to Britain being excluded from key decisions on issues such as trade, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, will warn tomorrow.

His dramatic warning of a complete rupture within EU follows talks on Wednesday between Clegg, David Cameron and the chancellor George Osborne.

Clegg will say it is not for the UK to dictate to the eurozone how it deals with the economic crisis, and add that he can see the case for closer economic integration in the EU. But he will continue: “We are also clear that any change to governance structures must not lead to a weaker and divisive Europe where the aims of ‘euro ins’ are set against those of ‘euro outs’. There can be no inhibiting of trade, for example, and no obstructing the single market. Any decision that affects the 27 must always be taken by the 27.”

Speaking to the EU summit in Warsaw, Clegg will warn of serious implications if Britain’s role is downgraded by greater integration by eurozone countries. He will say: “We cannot accept arrangements that would privilege the eurozone as a decision-making body over the European council. That is the surest way to rupture our union, undermining the huge strides that have been taken to secure cooperation between us, allowing walls to spring up even though we spent years knocking them down.

“The problem is if the economic crisis deepens the fault lines between our nations … if it tears us apart.”

His remarks come as foreign secretary William Hague, a eurosceptic, likened the EU to “a burning building with no exits”, an analogy he first made as Conservative leader. In an interview with the Spectator, Hague adds: “It was folly to create this system, it will be written about for centuries as a kind of historical monument to collective folly. But it’s there and we have to deal with it.”

Hague also warns: “Greeks or Italians or Portuguese have to accept some very big changes in what happens in their country, even bigger than if they weren’t in the euro, and Germans will have to accept that they are going to subsidise those countries for a long time to come really, for the rest of their lifetimes.”

His remarks will stoke the eurosceptic mood of many Tory backbenchers demanding an an “in or out?” referendum if the EU seeks to introduce treaty changes as part of its solution to the euro crisis. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds